Understanding the quality of life experiences of older or frail adults following a new dens fracture: non-surgical management in a hard collar versus early removal of collar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: In the UK, fractures of the cervical dens process in older and/or frail patients are usually managed non-surgically in a hard collar. However, hard collars can lead to complications and this management approach is now being questioned, with growing interest in maximising patients’ short-term quality-of-life. It is vital that patient’s perspectives are considered, yet there is a dearth of literature examining the aspect. To help inform wider decision-making about use of collar/no collar management of dens fractures in older/frail people, we explored older/frail people’s experience of the two management approaches and how they affected their perceived quality-of-life.
Methods: We interviewed older and/or frail adults with a recent dens fracture (aged ≥65 years or with a clinical frailty score of ≥5) or their caregiver. Participants were recruited from both arms of a clinical trial comparing management using a hard collar for 12 weeks (SM) with early removal of the collar (ERC) and were interviewed following randomisation and again, 12-16 weeks later. Data were analysed using a framework approach.
Results: Both participant groups (SM/ERC) reported substantial, negative QoL experiences, with the fall itself, and lack of access to care services and information being frequent major contributory factors. Many negative experiences cut across both participant groups, including pain, fatigue, diminished autonomy and reduced involvement in personally meaningful activities. However, we identified some subtle, yet discernible, ways in which using SM/ERC reinforced or alleviated (negative) QoL impacts, with the perceived benefits/burdens to using SM/ERC varying between different individuals.
Conclusion: Study findings can be used to support informed decision-making about SM/ERC management of dens fractures in older/frail patients.
Patient or Public Contribution: Public and patient involvement (PPI) contributors were involved in the study design, development of interview topic guides and interpretation of study findings.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14017
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalHealth Expectations
Volume27
Issue number2
Early online date15 Mar 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Dens fracture
  • Older adults
  • cervical collar
  • qualitative research
  • quality of life
  • patient perspective

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